For a decade now, advocates of judicial oversight have dreamed of compiling a basic guide to the New York State judiciary. The guide would be “no more than a public list of state judges and their professional backgrounds,” writes Joyce Purnick in the New York Times. Simple? Not in New York. A decade ago, the state’s chief administrative judge, E. Leo Milonas, tried to create a directory to give the public more information about Supreme Court justices, who are elected. (In New York, Supreme Court is the court of broadest jurisdiction, not the high court.) The judges “went ballistic,” Milonas said.
A new chief administrative judge has resurrected the project, and the state’s judges now say they are on board. “Tell everybody we are more than willing to tell everybody who we are,” the president of a judicial association told Purnick. What accounts for the turnaround? With the Internet, “Everything you want to find out about us is pretty much available anyway,” said the administrative judge. That, and allegations of cronyism, bribery and corruption that have shaken the public’s confidence in the state’s highly politicized judiciary.